Wood to make first Saints start since March


TOM WOOD will start for Saints for the first time since March when they take on Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Friday night.

The England flanker, who made a try-scoring return as a replacement against Leinster last weekend, lines up at seven in his side’s final pre-season clash.

Wood’s last start for Saints came against Wasps on March 24 but he has since been hampered with a troublesome foot injury.

His return is good news for director of rugby Jim Mallinder, who has named what will be close to his strongest side ahead of next Saturday’s Premiership opener at Gloucester.

No.8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze is back in the team after recovering from a knock which kept him out of the 43-0 thrashing of Leinster last time out.

Trialist Ryhs Oakley is named among the replacements, despite the fact he will start against Moseley at Franklin’s Gardens on Thursday night.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh have made eight changes to the side that lost to Newcastle last weekend, with Welsh cap John Yapp and All Black Ben Atiga set to make their club debuts at prop and inside-centre.

The back-line welcomes the return of 22-year-old full-back Tom Brown for his first match since Scotland’s historic tour of Australasia.
Former Saint Greig Tonks moves to outside-centre to start alongside Atiga, while a new half-back partnership of Richie Rees and Gregor Hunter start the match.

In the front-row Yapp is joined by returning hooker Andy Titterrell and Willem Nel, who makes his first start for the club.
A new-look lock combination of Perry Parker and Steven Turnbull forms the second row, with Netani Talei coming in at No.8 alongside returning flankers Dimitri Basilaia and Roddy Grant.
Saints: Foden, Artemyev, G Pisi, Waldouck, K Pisi, Lamb, Dickson; Tonga’uiha, Hartley, Mujati, Manoa, Day, Dowson, Wood, van Velze.

Replacements: Haywood, Waller, Doran-Jones, Sorenson, Harrison, Myler, Roberts, Burrell, Oakley, McMillan, Wilson.

Edinburgh: Brown, Penn, Tonks, Atiga, Visser, Hunter, Rees; Yapp, Titterell, Nell, Parker, Turnbull, Basilaia, Grant, Talei.

Replacements: Walker, Hislop, Niven, Cox, McAlpine, Watson, Leck, Houston, Farndale, Fife, King.